A naturist from nicknamed ‘the Cambridge Nude Cyclist’ has found locals less tolerant of his penchant for riding while nude since moving to Bournemouth and now faces trial later this year on charges of causing “harassment, alarm or distress.”
Richard Collins, a 53-year-old father of two who helped bring the World Naked Bike Ride to the UK, moved to the Dorset seaside resort from Cambridge after his wife, who disapproved of his riding naked, divorced him, although he officially still resides in Hardwick, near the university town.
After appearing before Bournemouth magistrates this week for a pre-trial hearing, he told Cambridge News: “I’m disappointed Dorset police aren’t as enlightened as officers in Cambridge, London, and other parts of the country. Police in Cambridge, in the main, didn’t have a problem with it.”
He continued: “No-one ever complained and Cambridge people are much more liberal and open-minded – they are relaxed about the whole idea.”
Well, not quite everyone. Collins was twice arrested after cycling naked in Cambridge, as well as for dancing nude during the Big Weekend festival on the city’s Parker’s Piece, although charges were dropped in all of those cases, as was a prosecution for naked cycling in London.
Should the Bournemouth case go before magistrates as planned in December, it will therefore be the first time he has had to explain himself in court.
The present case dates back to June 30, when Collins was cycling along Bournemouth’s promenade on his way to get the ferry to a naturist beach, accompanied by two friends who were wearing clothes. A motorist called the police, who arrested him, with magistrates told that his riding naked had alarmed “many people.”
However, Collins insists that “I wasn’t threatening because I was just riding along minding my own business, and as soon as I stopped I got off and got dressed. We have freedom of expression, which includes doing things other people may find shocking or offensive.”
He added that the potential court case “really is a waste of money, particularly with the cutbacks.”
Collins isn’t the first cyclist to get into trouble for cycling on Bournemouth’s promenade, although the ones we have previously reported on have been wearing clothes. Last year, national cyclists’ organisation CTC branded as “ridiculous and excessive” the use of speed guns on the prom by police officers to ensure that cyclists were complying with a 10mph speed limit.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.